I live in Outlook, I think most people probably do too, so having recently moved the email for my domain over to something a little more reliable – BPOS – I thought it’d be nice to have access to that inbox through my Outlook, in addition to my Microsoft email. To help with the setup of email the Sign In application can do it all for you the client’s available from the Administration Center or the download site.
This however results in you having a separate profile within Outlook so it’s not quite what I wanted.
This is what you need to do to add an Exchange Online mailbox to an existing Outlook profile in Outlook 2010 (the basic steps are universal):
Done, if you start Outlook you’ll find your new account is available for you
As part of my dive into the world of Microsoft Online Services one of the things I’ve not been able to find in one place – please correct me if I’m wrong – is a list scenarios where BPOS can really help you out. Our various partners who help you get up and running on BPOS have some good stuff so what I’ve done here is aggregated some of that info and made it more generic.
You’ve realised that Email is low hanging fruit in the cloud tree
Email is really easy to move to the cloud. There are lots of distinct units (mail boxes) that mean the impact on testing and a gradual rollout to BPOS is simple to do. Not only that but there’s the high availability and low cost of management, you don’t need to patch or any of that stuff and you don’t need to buy the tin. You also don’t need to get in with both feet. Your cloud solution (or at least BPOS) can coexist with on premise (dare we say private cloud?) meaning you get to do this as you feel comfortable with it.
Your internal customers are used to email delivered from the cloud too, in fact they probably expect it – especially the younger members of your staff. They’ve grown up with services like Hotmail, Yahoo! mail, Gmail and the likes so they expect their email to always be there, to never go down, to never require maintenance, to have huge storage capacity (25gb is the default with BPOS). This is an example of where the consumerisation of IT is driving your users expectations. BPOS represents the best first step to the cloud.
You’ve out-grown your existing Exchange environment
Coexistence in Exchange means you can add to your existing Exchange infrastructure by connecting to BPOS. That means you get your GAL extended into the cloud and it all feels seamless for your users. There are times when you need to deploy new Exchange 2010 boxes internally but they are reducing. Compliance could be a major turn off but in the case of BPOS that’s not the case! SOx and the likes are supported by BPOS they aren’t by many other providers.
Storage is a big thing here. How much storage do your on premise Exchange users get? The 25gb offered by BPOS could be an expensive thing to grow to for all your customers, if you needed to buy the spindles and platters.
Again it goes down the cost of tin and maintenance, there are times when you’ll want to scale out your Exchange infrastructure but it now should be ROI costed against BPOS.
You’ve acquired a company on another system
I love this one. Your company bought another company, again, without thinking about how to integrate the IT systems. Email just works right? Well…er..er…
We’ve seen Exchange Online used for just this scenario quite a lot. You have to get people onto your email system yesterday, it’s imperative to keep the newly acquired business functional, profitable and (possibly) to show them who’s boss. The ability to integrate Exchange Online rapidly with your existing structure, you can do it in about an hour if the DNS gods are shing on you and the wind is in the right direction, is superb. They need access to your GAL, they’ve got it, they need to start receiving email @contoso.com , they’ve got it.
Not only that but all their mail can be in brought over too so they don’t loose their archive of 10 year old email Exchanges that they intend to use to justify that pay rise.
You need to move from another Internet based mail system
Same solution as above, mailboxes can be imported. That is super cool for moving from one provider to another, if they had an outage recently because they can’t really scale and don’t really have an enterprise ready solution. In fact this scenario applies to moving off of other in house email systems.
Asside: I once helped move from a green screen email system to a gui based one. Email volume tripled overnight and the reason was it became more usable. Unfortunately that solution didn’t scale, but it delivers a bit of sage advice. Be sure what you move to can scale beyond what you currently consider the norm.
You use SBS and you’ve outgrown your 75 user limit
SBS or Small Business Server includes Exchange and it’s all a small business needs to get started. However there’s a limit of 75 users and a tighter limit on the disk space you have installed in your box (that’s a physical limit not an OS limit). If you need more than 75 mail boxes or you need more space than you have in that box Exchange Online is for you.
SBS and Exchange Online have been used in other interesting places too, for example the two work really well for project offices. Everyone on the project only really works on the project but they need to be able to deal with email at a higher level.
You’re company has expanded into a new country and mail’s slow
This is another of my favourite scenarios, mainly because a friend of mine has been hit by the crippling situation that is SLoooooooooooooooW email. She’s just started work at a new company, the company is actually new to UK and it’s main offices are in India. Things are not so good from a reliability perspective and a speed perspective. For example they have on premise Exchange in India (where everyone is in the same building) but have a slow link out the Internet.
When something is sent internally it’s instant, when it goes to her it can take a while, especially when it’s a 10mb Excel doc. When she checks her email it has to cross that little tiny pipe to get back to her, whilst she’s waiting.
This could be solved by Exchange Online. If her company set up Exchange Online for her she’d be able to take advantage of her fast home broadband connect when she’s connected to the Exchange Online servers. Sure the files would still have to cross a tiny pipe but not whilst she’s waiting. Her experience would be better…in fact she might not be quitting next week.
In fact there is more to BPOS than just email, Sharepoint provides the perfect solution to this problem when it’s in the cloud. The ability to place a large file somewhere, or a report or just some info, and to only have to manage one place is astounding. When it’s in the cloud with BPOS it’s even better for people working remotely because you don’t need to worry about your network links.
You have a short term need for extra people with email
You need 100 seats now. You’ve got a massive sales drive hitting the ground and you need 100 new call handlers with email access like it was yesterday. BPOS can do that, you don’t need to wait to buy the tin, build it, connect it…none of that. You just do it. And when it’s done, as long as it’s been over a year you unsubscribe those seats and if it’s not you begin your cloud migration because you just proved that cloud email works.
I wrote this because cloud based email is worth thinking about. IT Pros need to be questioning when they can move to the cloud and Emails the easy way. I’d really love to know what you think, which is what the comments are for. Have I missed any scenarios that you think we all need to be considering?
Here’s more on BPOS by me you should signup for BPOS and start trying it out today too.
Before we get into this it’s very important to note that Windows Intune is in Beta and things will change. It will still be very cool though…
Managing the Windows PCs in your business is essential if you want to have happy users and want to reduce the threats posed by missed updates, malware and other hassles. It’s also a huge bonus when you know exactly what software is being used in your business (and that you’re licensed for it!) and I’m sure it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when you get to help out a user without having to leave your desk. Normally you need a server infrastructure to get the best of all this.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if you could manage all the PCs in your business without having deploy and manage a server infrastructure to do it? Well that’s where Windows Intune steps in to help you out. It’s our new cloud based management solution (currently in Beta) that allows you to manage all the PCs in your business from a console that runs in your web browser and sits in the cloud. No infrastructure needed.
The key things that Intune does for you functionality wise (and there are what I’d call bonuses, BIG bonuses in addition):
So what are the bonuses? How about Windows 7 Enterprise and Software Assurance? That’s a heck of a bonus no? That means that every PC that you install Intune on and pay for will always have the right to have the newest Windows version in line with the Enterprise SKU…and that means you get security features like BitLocker. That in my eyes is a heck of a bonus.
Who’s it good for
If you don’t have any PC management in your organisation and you’re small to mid size, in my opinion Windows Intune is a no-brainer. From day one of using Intune you’ll have a better understanding of your Windows client environment than you’ve ever had.
If you’ve got other PC management in place (that doesn’t have the power of System Center), you are small to mid size and you maintain infrastructure for it you should evaluate Windows Intune, it could save you a fortune.
If you don’t have software assurance then you should consider Windows Intune so you can keep your stuff up to date.
If your remote people have lots of issues that prevent them getting inside your network through your VPN then you should consider Windows Intune because you can manage that PC the second there’s an internet connection. Great if you enforce minimum requirements like having a minimum malware signature level before your users can connect.
If you’re providing a managed PC service for your customers then its awesome once you get your head around direct billing. If you’d like to know more about this let me know.
Finding the sides
Windows Intune isn’t supported on servers and whilst it’s got a fairly comprehensive feature set for managing PCs it’s not got the granularity required by large organisations yet and before doing a large deployment you’ll need to think about networking. Other than that, there aren’t really any, you can technically manage as many clients as you like.
So, lets take a look at some of the highlights of what Windows Intune has to offer and no I’m going through this step by step – there are videos for that.
Lets take a look: Updates
Windows Update is our biggest cloud service, in fact it’s THE biggest cloud service out there, there a millions upon millions of users getting updates from the service every day. Windows Update provides a fire hose of updates direct from source (yep that’s us) for every supported version of Windows and Office and more. Some businesses like a little more control over the fire hose which is why we provide a product called Windows Server Update Service for large businesses. WSUS gives them the ability to control what updates go to what PCs allowing them to create groups of PCs to receive the updates first to make sure they don’t encounter issues such as incompatibility their Line of Business (LOB) applications. The problem with this is that the WSUS server is inside the business network so clients can’t get those updates if they aren’t connected and also it requires infrastructure which smaller business might find costly to deploy.
Welcome Windows Intune.
Windows Intune adds a level of control to that fire hose, a more directed hose nozzle in if you will, allowing the administrator to identify the specific updates to allow and creation of groups of machines to target for specific updates. Just like you’d do in a test environment to ensure your LOB applications play nice.
Inside the console, which is available once you have your account, you find that it’s split into the different aspects that Windows Intune manages. Selecting Updates is the rather obvious way to manage updates and from here the Update Status panel shows you how many updates you have to approve and so on. Updates are split into Critical, Security, Definition Updates (we’ll do this in part 2), Service Packs, Rollups and Mandatory. This last section basically contains the updates necessary to manage a PC with Intune, you see we use the Windows Update service on the PC to keep things in check, neat eh…no extra load for a software update agent.
Updates can be approved or declined meaning that they will be blocked from installing. When an update is approved or declined the flag is set against a particular group of machines giving you some granularity of control…and it’s possible for a single machine to be a member of more than one group. Another very handy feature is that the properties of each update include detailed information about behaviour, severity of the problem being patched and deeper detail such as KB articles.
In part two I take a look at Intune’s Malware protection, Firewall and Remote Assistance and then we’ll take a look at Alerting, Software and Hardware reporting and licensing. Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it.
Right now you should apply to join the beta – but remember we want people to try this out, we only have 10,000 places available and they’re filling up fast, but we want people with at least 5 computers to deploy to. You should also check out the official Windows Intune blog too for more.
Over the past week I’ve been asking people on twitter to talk to me about their experiences with BPOS and I had an interesting conversational thread with @IAmKat about multiple email accounts and how to send and receive. So I did some digging.
Firstly it’s really easy to receive email into one account from different addresses. For example, say I want to collect emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and have them go to my normal mail address. All I need to do (as the administrator of my BPOS account) is go to the Admin Center and edit my user account for the mail account where I want to receive the mail. If I then scroll down I can add any unused alias at any domain that I’ve got associated with my account. A great example of this would be to add the .co.uk domain if you normally use only the .com domain for your org.
Nothing here for your end user to do to receive this mail.
That’s only half the story though…what about sending?
That’s where things become more tricky. The BPOS team blog has the answer though in the form of distribution lists. Essentially what you do is create a dist list and allow one user to manage the list, then they can send and receive from it…it’s not super simple though which is a shame.
I’m just starting to learn my way around BPOS so I thought I’d move all the mail for my domain, simon-may.com, over to it and enjoy all the benefits of real enterprise level email (like really, really good sync, calendaring, tasking and the like). I have to say, it was a very simple setup…in fact that surprised me. Essentially 6 steps and I have Exchange running for me with all it entails.
Done. That is it. The longest thing was waiting for about an hour for my DNS records to propagate.
And that’s me off of Gmail